With a name like Sniper Light, this pellet from H&N promises to cut through the air at speed, so Mike Morton breaks out the chrono to see how it performs.
As a general rule of thumb, a lighter pellet will fly faster than a heavier one when shot from the same gun and will have a shallower trajectory, making it arguably easier to shoot, although it won’t retain as much energy as the heavier projectile at range.
While the pellets being tested here are the Sniper Light, H&N caters for all weights with its Sniper family, as the German manufacturer also produces the Sniper Medium and the Sniper Magnum.
Pellet: Sniper Light
Manufacturer: H&N Sport (www.hn-sport.de/en)
Type: Roundhead diabolo
Calibre tested: .177 (4.5mm)
Supplied in: Tin of 500
Price: Around £11
Advertised weight: 7.41 grains
Measured weight: 7.76 grains
Uses: Target shooting, hunting
H&N describes the Sniper Light as a barrel-shaped high-velocity competition and hunting pellet that’s been designed specifically for shooting in air rifles that do not exceed 12 foot pounds of muzzle energy out to a maximum distance of 50 metres.
I’ve previously tested this pellet in .22 calibre, and in fact it’s become the ‘go to’ pellet for my BSA R-10 SE, but this time I’m looking at the .177 variety.
The pellet has a full domed head, a wide flared skirt and a straight-walled body. The skirt is thin, which I’m guessing has been purposely designed this way in order to allow it to expand and better engage the rifling in the bore on firing – a process called obturation.
While the advertised weight is a svelte 7.41 grains, when I put a sample of 50 random pellets over my scales I recorded 11 pellets weighing 7.6 grains and 39 coming in at 7.8 grains, yielding an average measured weight of 7.76 grains.
My tin of 500 pellets was cleanly made with no lead swarf, although one of the pellets had not been fully formed during the manufacturing process, which is rare, but does occasionally happen.
This shoot was conducted on a cool, but very bright day in my garden, which offered no cover from the glare of the sun. When shooting in conditions like these, I always try to time my shooting so the sun is overhead and is therefore not shining directly into either my shooting eye or the objective lens of the scope.
All shots were taken at a 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spot with the rifle zeroed at 30 yards. The pellets were taken straight from the tin, with five shots being taken at each of the three targets.
I used a Daystate Red Wolf for this test, a rifle that is thankfully pretty unfussy when it comes to shooting different types of ammo. The rifle was shot off my usual heavy-duty Dog-Gone-Good shooting bags, placed on a sturdy dining room table.
Once the barrel had been cleaned and the bore leaded, the Wolf was sending the 7.76 grain Sniper Lights over the chrono at an average of 798.9 feet per second, these, as expected, travelling a bit faster than a standard weight .177 pellet, with a variation of 8.2 feet per second over a 10-shot string and a muzzle velocity of 11.0 foot pounds.
At 20 yards, the group size was a very pleasing 3.0mm centre-to-centre, with the group falling 4.2mm above point of aim. At 30 yards, the distance at which I thought I’d properly zeroed the rifle, group size was still an impressively tiny 5.9mm centre-to-centre, although the group was slightly low – being some 3.5mm below my point of aim.
I wasn’t able to safely set up my chrono to measure downrange velocity for this test, although it would have been useful to find out how much speed and energy the ultra-light Sniper Lights retained. Back at 40 yards group size did open up a fair bit, spreading out fairly evenly and measuring 17.3mm centre-to centre.
But this was still within the 18mm diameter of a five pence piece, and I needed to use just 28mm of holdover, again due to the pellets’ lighter-than-average weight.
While all three groups could be covered by my trusty 5p piece, the 20- and 30-yard results were clearly far better, leading me to believe that this pellet’s speed may bleed off quite rapidly beyond a certain distance.
Although I’d want to do more outdoor shooting in the wind before recommending them for something like HFT, I think these pellets would be excellent for hunting at shorter distances and would be a great choice for indoor target use too.
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